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Issues and Insights

This page provides links to recent articles, reports and announcements relating to transportation policy, legislation and research. The entries are drawn from a wide range of sources, including national newspapers, magazines and websites. If you come across interesting transportation reading that might deserve posting here, let us know at [email protected]

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Forget Tech Bro Fantasies of Self-Driving Cars and Just Invest in Buses Already New Republic, May 3, 2021- Lyft and Uber’s autonomous vehicle hype has far outstripped progress. Let’s put our hopes, and our money, elsewhere.
This hybrid freight train uses 18,000 batteries to cut its carbon footprint FastCompany, May 4, 2021- The Wabtec FLXdrive Battery Locomotive—a winner of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards—uses batteries to help out its engine, and recharges them as it brakes. 
 
‘Tap-and-ride’: How public transportation is making room for contactless payments Tearsheet, May 4, 2021 - The public transportation industry’s adoption of contactless forms of payment is taking off as a result of the pandemic. The adoption of contactless in public transport could pave the way for contactless to integrate into other industries as well.
 
Does It Matter That I Let My Car Park Itself? Wired.com, 3/30/21 - Given the skill sets we humans have lost over the course of our history—archery, celestial navigation, and the ability to track animals come to mind—I don’t know that the obsolescence of parking skills counts as a blow to the species, especially considering that it’s an ability people often lose through perfectly mundane circumstances. Moving to the suburbs, say. It’s true that we’re the only animal to have mastered the art of driving, and that the gradual automation of the car often makes it feel as though we’re abdicating some essential feature of our intelligence. Of course, it’s hard to say what “human intelligence” even means these days. The definition is always changing, mostly in reaction to whatever new aptitude machines have picked up.
The Rules That Made U.S. Roads So Deadly Bloomberg.com, 3/30/21 - A 25-year-old Yale Law student. A crossing guard. A 78-year-old woman. A high-school teacher. These are but four of the pedestrians and bikers counted among the 310 motor-vehicle-related deaths seen in 2020 in Connecticut, where I live. Our state saw one of the highest increases in the U.S. for such deaths: 22% more than in 2019.
What Data Can’t Do New Yorker, 3/29/21 -  When it comes to people—and policy—numbers are both powerful and perilous....Whenever you try to force the real world to do something that can be counted, unintended consequences abound.
‘I’ve Never Seen Anything Like This’: Chaos Strikes Global Shipping The New York Times, 3/7/21 - Off the coast of Los Angeles, more than two dozen container ships filled with exercise bikes, electronics and other highly sought imports have been idling for as long as two weeks. In Kansas City, farmers are struggling to ship soybeans to buyers in Asia. In China, furniture destined for North America piles up on factory floors.
New Jersey Allocates Funding Toward Further Electrification at the Port of NY and NJ Portbreakingwaves.com, 3/2/21 - New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced earlier in February that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, several Port of New York of New Jersey tenants, and other agencies and organizations across the state would receive more than $100 million for clean, equitable transportation projects. The funds were allocated from the state’s participation in the Regional Green House Gas Initiative (RGGI) and the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust, a legal settlement from the carmaker over emissions cheating claims.  
The City Where Cars Are Not Welcome The New York Times, 2/28/21 - Eckart Würzner, a mayor on a mission to make his city emission free, is not terribly impressed by promises from General Motors, Ford and other big automakers to swear off fossil fuels. Not that Mr. Würzner, the mayor of Heidelberg, is against electric cars. The postcard-perfect city, in southern Germany, gives residents who buy a battery-powered vehicle a bonus of up to 1,000 euros, or $1,200. They get another €1,000 if they install a charging station.
Texas Blackouts Point to Coast-to-Coast Crises Waiting to Happen

The New York Times, 2/20/21 - Even as Texas struggled to restore electricity and water over the past week, signs of the risks posed by increasingly extreme weather to America’s aging infrastructure were cropping up across the country.The week’s continent-spanning winter storms triggered blackouts in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and several other states. One-third of oil production in the nation was halted. Drinking-water systems in Ohio were knocked offline. Road networks nationwide were paralyzed and vaccination efforts in 20 states were disrupted.

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